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Guide for how often to pump & clean your residential septic tank

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If your home has a septic tank system, you will want to know how often to pump and clean the tank. One important thing to know is that the pumping schedule is not going to be the same for every household. This is because every household is different, every drain field is different, and the tank sizes are different.

Guide for how often to pump & clean your residential septic tank

As you get to know your septic system, you will learn more about when to pump it and how to recognize problems. As you gain experience, this knowledge will help you to avoid the plumbing problems associated with septic systems.

To get you started off on the right foot, here is a basic guide about pumping and cleaning your septic tank.


Professionals at the department of health recommend pumping septic tanks about every 2 to 3 years. But there are so many variables involved that you can’t just neglect the tank for two or three years.

You can figure out how often to schedule septic tank pumping based on the size of the tank and the number of people in your household. If you take a four-person household, the minimum tank size would be 1,000 gallons. It takes about two days for the solids to settle out, so the tank should be large enough to hold two days worth of wastewater.

The average home will use 70 gallons of water, per person, every day. For a family of four with a 1,000-gallon tank, pumping will need to be done about every 2.6 years. A 1,500-gallon tank with 4 household members will need to be pumped on average every 4.2 years.

Remember though, that every household is different. Some use more water or take more showers. Also, people take care of the septic system differently too.


Some things should never be put down the drains of your plumbing system. For instance, when you flush certain toilet paper, sanitary napkins, or grease, the solids will get stuck in the tank. If your tank is filled with sludge or objects that shouldn’t be inside, you will need to pump the tank way more often. If you don’t pump it out more regularly and you keep putting things like that down the drain, your septic tank will back up. Avoid putting the following things down the drains:

  • Grease, fat, cooking oils
  • Latex, plastic, metals
  • Garbage disposal leftovers like meta, fat, potato peels & egg shells
  • Hazardous substances and cleaning chemical
  • Baby wipes & diapers
  • Feminine products
  • Paper towels and tissues
  • Q-tips, cotton balls
  • Pills


Sometimes it’s a good idea to pump the septic tank between the normal schedule. If you plan to have a party or large get-together, have your home’s septic tank pumped before. Tanks can get overloaded when there’s a large flow of wastewater down the drain. Families that wash more laundry will need to pump the tank out more often, so the same is true when there are a lot of extra people using the plumbing and drain system of your household. Contact our experts at  United Septic and Grease Services today!

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